Friday, January 8, 2010

Comic Reviews - January 8th 2009

I’ve got 5 comics to review but not enough time to review all 5 in one day. So we’re going to split this up into 2 parts. 3 reviews today, 2 tomorrow. It will be 2 posts which usually I wouldn’t do but this is much easier. So today we’ve got the other 2 comics of this week as well as my most anticipated comic of December. Let’s get to it!

Haunt #4
Written: Robert Kirkman
Art: Ryan Ottley

Opening Comments: Kirkman really amps up Haunt by giving us some real exciting stuff this issue but also gives us a great character read. Making this the best issue of Haunt yet.

Story Comments: Let’s start with my one big problem with this issue and it’s that we never see anymore discussion between Kurt and Daniel. I was expecting some follow up from last time but really all we got was Daniel saying they’ve made up for now. After such a powerful moment last issue I expected some follow up.

Though this issue was much more jammed with stuff going on to actually have that follow up so for now I am fine. This issue had a great blend of action, character work and lots of solid moments.

I was glad to see Amanda again. Seems she’ll be an important character to the cast and seeing her actually get some use in the story again was nice. I especially loved her interactions with Haunt after he saved her. Though I do think it was rather typical to have her get kidnapped, it worked well still.

Amanda is an interesting character. We see she’s clearly a strong woman (perhaps she secretly knows what Kurt was?) and it was nice to see Kirkman use her for something at least. I’m hopeful she’ll appear soon though and actually stick around more often though because I want to know more about her. She could be an essential side-character and Kirkman hopefully will have her play a more important role later on.

I did like seeing the experiments that the Dr. had been working on and getting some follow up on that. It’s a typical “good science used for evil” type of thing. Still we at least know what he was working on and that’s another piece of the puzzle. Also seeing the mutated boy was rather heartbreaking.

Seeing the mole in the agency walk around right by Daniel is worrying. I’m curious if she’ll be a major villain through the story since right now she’s doing a good job at playing nice guy.

The best part of this issue was of course when we see Haunt in action again. I absolutely loved his interaction with the director and Daniel’s reactions where priceless. Probably my favorite part had to be Daniel shouting if the car can fly (it is a spy car after all) and Daniel mentioning it’s better that the director not knowing how they are getting through traffic so fast when we see they are doing all kinds of crazy  things. It was hilarious.

Kirkman is doing a great job adding his own level of strong writing and influence into the story now. It’s feeling more and more like a Kirkman comic with the strong dialogue and fun moments. Even if it’s still a violent and gritty story Kirkman is really adding that extra layer of personal touch that makes it so much fun to read.

Really this comic is turning into the perfect Robert Kirkman comic. While at first the comic lacked his style in the first issue as time goes on it feels more and more like his personal touch and it really brings Haunt to life like no other writer could making it a really unique and enjoyable experience.

Then there’s Haunts interactions with Amanda. I really like how we see the caring side of Daniel and Kurt in the more quiet moment between these 2. It’s only 2 pages but it’s really effective. We see that clearly they both still care a lot about her so this one moment really is enjoyable for it. I hope Amanda either finds out who Haunt is soon or that she and Daniel interact more real soon.

The action is a really powerful part of Haunt right now. Kirkman can write really cool action and the short fight with Cobra was much better this time then it was in issue #2.  Here Cobra felt like a bit more of a real threat and the way the fight is choreographed is really impressive.

My only real complaint with the action is how they beat Cobra. They slice open his face and he runs away. The way Kurt talks about Cobra you’d think this is the guy who’d keep fighting until he’s nothing but a bodiless head so I felt that was a cheap way to wrap up the fight.

Though still the action was excellent and it was cool seeing someone who is just a normal guy (or so it seems for now) take on Haunt and is a viable threat to him. Also we get a little mention that Cobra has killed “his kind” before. Does that mean that Haunt is indeed in the larger Image universe (Kirkman himself said he’s not sure if it is yet) or maybe there are other Haunts out there? I’m curious to know.

Then there’s the reveal that Haunt’s powers weaken Daniel. I really liked this twist for the character. It means we can’t exactly have him going on a stake out and be like this all night without putting Daniel in serious danger. It’s a really interesting twist for the character and I’m hopeful that Kirkman uses it well in later issues since it is our heroes one major weakness.

On another complaint about the story I was disappointed that the assistant director Beth didn’t really have any lines or do anything in this issue. I was half expecting her to confront Daniel about Kurt or something but not seeing her do anything, just show up ina couple of panels, was rather disappointing.

I have to mention our villain, Mr. Hurg. (who I swear has Atom Eve for an assistant) we see more of him and it seems he’s a bit of a health nut. Scolding the near dead Cobra as he lays in a hospital bed about his dietary choices. It was funny but I’m not sure if this is the characters quirk or Kirkman was just writing him like this for a moment. It seems like a small insight to the character in showing he may be an old man but he’s healthy, meaning he could be a viable threat in battle to Haunt.

Then there’s the cliff-hanger. Damn, that left my jaw on the floor. It was so awesome. So yeah I called it Mirage took the Dr.’s notebook and is now looking to sell it to Hurg. Oh damn. This could give the bad guys a huge advantage and seeing that left me dying for more (bad pun I know) but I am seriously psyched for next month’s issue.

Overall this was an excellent issue of Haunt. It had everything, great action, solid character work and from page to page it was a great read that left me fully satisfied as well as excited for more next time.

Art Comments: Ottley has come a long way in these prior 4 issues. Seems he was just getting his groove and now totally has Haunt down. Every panel contains that greatness he’s always conveyed over in Invincible and even has a new level of awesome thanks to the way he handles the action.

Of course the best part though is the way he draws Haunt. He really cuts loose with Haunt and goes wild with the character and it looks absolutely awesome. I’m loving the art on Haunt.

Final Comments: Haunt is on it’s way to becoming one of the best Image comics out there just as Invincible has become. If you’re looking for fun violent over the top heroics with some excellent action and great characters then Haunt is that book and this issue is the best yet so far.

Story Rating: 5 out of 5
Art Rating: 5 out of 5
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5
Must Have

Ultimate Comics Spider-man #5
Written: Brain Bendis
Art: David Lafuente

Opening Comments: Ultimate Comics Spider-man closes it’s first arc with a bang (literally) and all the while gives us an exciting run read with Bendis’ usual great use of dialogue and fun character work. Oh, and there’s lots of pretty art too!

Story Comments: the opening spread of Peter narrating all about his life was an interesting idea. I don’t think we see this in many comics but it was a nice way to get out all the Bendis monologue with it getting all over the gorgeous 2 page spread by Lafuente but it is a massive load to read still.

The opening dinner table scene with our cast was a ton of fun to read though. I especially loved how Gwen mad a point that she’s dating Peter so she’s off limits and Aunt May telling Johnny no hanky panky in the house was just hilarious. Really this was an all around hilarious and fun way to help us get used to Peter’s new family situations and it was just tons of fun.

Then there was the hilarious scene of Johnny and Bobby changing their looks so no one would notice them as they go to school. That was just hilarious and I loved Bobby’s reaction, and yes I agree with many people, he now looks like Bobby Hill.

The scene between Aunt May and the principal was very interesting to read. Last time they met he had Aunt May arrested (Ouch, awkward…) so seeing some follow up to that was great and I loved the principal’s new mindset on possibly having Spider-man come to their school. Another solid excellent scene that Bendis handled really well and felt like a real conversation between 2 adults.

Aunt May is such a great character and as I’ve said in the past she must have the heart of a saint. Forget Mother Theresa, Aunt May is the real pure hearted person in the world. She’s just so great and seeing her really go out on a limb, putting herself at a total risk taking these boys in and all is just so amazing and fits her character so perfectly.

I loved how MJ reacted when she saw Jonny and Bobby. She recognized them right away and it was so awesome seeing her have a mini panic attack about it and it was just so great. Also I’m really glad to see MJ get more attention and being integrated back into the cast as I was really worried she’d become a minor character.

Also Johnny hitting on MJ was priceless. Though maybe this could actually go somewhere and if it did that would be hilarious. God knows it would put Peter through a meat grinder of emotions.

I liked seeing Peter’s Spider-sense really build up. It was a really intimidating moment as we saw the tension rise and then  bam it was excellent. A perfect build up to debuting our Spider-slayer who was just awesome to see Ultimized finally as Spider-slayers are classic to Spider-man so seeing this one with the Mysterio touch was awesome.

Bendis really excels with the action here especially with how Spider-man struggles to fight the Spider-slayer while trying to keep it from destroying his school and saving his principal. It was a ton of fun to see this part as bendis really showed what a major threat the Spider-slayer here was.

Then of course the Shroud shows up and the ensuing moment of how she (yes, it is a she, more on the reveal in a moment) just totally desolates the Spider-slayer was hilarious. Also seeing Johnny show up and ruin the evidence and then the little side-joke about the Shroud person moving in with them had me chuckling.

Really this issue was just tons of fun to read. Sure the action was excellent and it got intense for a few moments but overall it was jut a lot of fun to read and I enjoyed every page of it.

Then there’s the reveal of who the Shroud is. Turns out it’s  Kitty as many people speculated. I wasn’t really sure nor did I want to spend too much time speculating on it since I knew Bendis wouldn’t Loeb us (that’s what I call when you are going to reveal a big identity then totally bullshit the audience and never reveal it and just keep stringing them along) and would reveal her.

The reveal was nicely done and I’m excited to see where this goes with Kitty. We can assume she’s hardening herself as a hero and trying to be more tough, possibly like Wolverine, and it’s really exciting to see where Bendis will take the character with her new persona.

Then there’s the excellent ending. For now Mysterio has to go back into hiding but he’s got Spider-man in his sights. I’m really excited to see what Bendis does next with the excellent recreation of this classic villain.

Overall I loved this issue. All the characters where great the action was tons of fun to read and it was just everything I want from an Ultimate Spider-man comic.

Art Comments: Lafuente continues to impress. While last time some of his stuff looked a little rushed here it’s all gorgeous and that is undeniably partially thanks to a strong work from the colorist. Though really this is some excellent art and it fits both the character driven scenes and the action perfectly.

Though I’ll admit one major problem with the art is that it does sort of get lazy with smaller figures. Actually blacking out the bodies of some characters though still showing the clothes is a real lazy way to not draw the faces smaller. So while I loved the art, it wasn’t perfect.

Final Comments: Ultimate Spider-man is back on top as one of the best ongoings each month. With closing his first arc of the Relaunch Bendis has reminded everyone why this is the comic to watch and should be on everyone’s list.

Story Rating: 5 out of 5
Art rating: 4 out of 5
Overall rating: 5 out of 5
Must Have

Angelus #1
Written: Ron Marz
Art: Stjepan Sejic

Opening Comments: My expectations where fairly simple for Angelus #1, I wanted a good setup with lots of strong character work and a good set up for the entire mini-series as a whole and luckily Marz didn’t disappoint on that. He gave exactly what I knew he would and it made for an great read.

Story Comments: As one would figure, Marz opens with a good little explanation of the Angelus to catch up new readers on the characters so they are aware what it is and he does a good job of doing so while also showing the character Sabine who narrates this part is clearly plotting to take down Dani.

Seeing Sabine’s preparations for defeating Dani was interesting as we actually see Hell and Angelus elite warriors taking out Cerberus. It’s a really cool moment and it shows that Sabine is clearly up to something nasty if it involves going to hell for some kind of force to take down Dani.

Also I loved seeing this twisted version of hell. It just looked so awesome and of course I loved the more creative version of Cerberus. Rather then the typical 3 headed dog it’s a 3 headed monster of sorts and it looks absolutely awesome and I loved the creativity put into this scene.

We get caught up with Dani, who she is, her past and everything when we see her moving in and it was a very efficient way of showing new readers who Dani is while also giving us some nice insight to the character that older readers can still enjoy as Marz really excels at making these scenes that normally would be boring explanation into a still interesting and enjoyable read as well as making it seem like a real important part of the characters discussion and that they are saying it for a real reason, not simple to provide exposition.

Another part I’m really interested in with this mini is the Dani/Finch relationship. By now Dani doesn’t know if there really is a relationship whereas Finch seems head over heels for Dani. I can’t help but figure this is going to go down a nasty road with one of these 2 getting their hearts broken by this mini-series’ end.

Though the moment between them shortly before a monster attack was really heartfelt and Marz has been doing an excellent job building up this possible relationship. He’s not making it feel forced or rushing it like so many other writers would and that makes it feel so much more plausible and compelling and a lot more interesting to read then a random love interest for the sake of having a love interest.

Also Finch’s little line about not hurting Dani was a nice throw back to a previous issue of Witchblade. Dani had been contemplating how it seems every relationship she’s ever been in hurt her so see Marz sort of follow up with that little comment was a good moment for the character.

But of course we’ve got to have at least a little action and Marz really does a good job of giving us a fun action scene even if it is a little too short. It was nice getting to see Dani cut loose with her new Angelus powers and it was also excellently well choreographed in the layouts.

It was interesting seeing Sabine and the warriors save Dani. We know that Sabine is up to no good and wants Dani out of the picture but we don’t know if Dani knows that and will be able to outmaneuver her. I’m hopeful she will be we don’t know yet.

Then there’s that cliff-hanger. Absolutely excellent and it did a great job of really showing this mini has big plans of shaking up the Angelus status quo and character leaving me really excited to check out more next time.

Marz does a strong job of making a lot out of enjoyable reading out of not much to read. Really with the first issue he couldn’t really put it all out on the table otherwise he’d be wasting his time for future issues so clearly his main goal was just to set things up and he would have been fine just to do the bare basics and continue from there.

Though Marz doesn’t stick with just the  basics and he really goes that extra mile to make Angelus #1 a worthwhile read that while it doesn’t do much other then set up the story, it’s still tons of fun to read and really well done. Marz has a great talent for making what would be a boring read into an enjoyable read as he gives the characters and their interactions a really unique voice and makes it fun as all hell to read.

Overall this was a strong debut issue though it sadly didn’t’ get to do too much. It did it’s job and a little more by perfectly setting up the story and leaving more to excite me for next time.

Art Comments: Sejic’s art here was absolutely stunning. I’ve always loved his art but I’d go so far to as to say this is the best looking art from Sejic yet. There’s so much incredible detail here and it really adds a powerful layer to the already excellent read as this is some gorgeous work all the way.

Final Comments: Angelus is shaping up to be a really fun read and I’m already excited for more. Fans of the Top Cow universe should absolutely not miss this and anyone interested in checking out the Top Cow comics and their characters should definitely start with Angelus, it’s an excellent beginning.

Story Rating: 4 out of 5
Art Rating: 5 out of 5
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5
Must Read

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